Elvis How historically accurate is Baz Luhrmann’s biopic?

Elvis How historically accurate is Baz Luhrmann’s biopic?

Elvis: How historically accurate is the Elvis Presley biopic?  (Warner Bros./Getty)

Elvis: How historically accurate is the Elvis Presley biopic? (Warner Bros./Getty)

Out June 24th at IMAX and in cinemas across the UK, new biopic elvis tells the story of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Each biopic walks the same tightrope, balancing facts with artistic freedom. But when it comes to a musical icon, one with millions of devoted fans around the world, how on earth do you keep them all happy?

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elvis Director Baz Luhrmann sees his latest spectacle “not really as a biopic. It’s really about America in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” he said in Cannes.

“If you want to talk about America in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, Elvis was at the center of the culture, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

However, he strove for historical accuracy in the film while lending it his distinctive flair and style. “I would say it’s my kind of film. But it’s more grounded and I think more accessible to the audience from the start.”

The film encapsulates more than 20 years of the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s life in 2 hours and 39 minutes, from his rise to stardom, military service and marriage to his years in Las Vegas and his decline.

But how is it fair when it comes to painting an accurate picture?

is elvis historically correct? An expert’s perspective

When the film’s first trailer arrived, Elvis expert Billy Stallings Spa Guy released a video examining its historical accuracy.

A recognized expert on The King – he runs the Tigerman Karate Dogo and Museum in Memphis, where Elvis practiced martial arts – he begins his comment with “If you are an Elvis purist, this film – like all other films – will infuriate you , because there will be things in it that will not be exact.

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From the trailer, he highlights the Ferris wheel scene where Elvis and Parker discuss a partnership and say it never happened.

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

He also says that the moment when Elvis appears nervous before performing actually happened on a very different occasion when he was in the process of recording his first single.

And the Captain Marvel Jnr flash worn by young Elvis is what he believes is “artistic license” as Parker describes it in the film.

There are others, but he also confirms “the way they portray Elvis, with the girls just falling all over him and the huge crowds running after him, all of that is correct.”

For him, the film is “damn beautiful” overall, but not for “us Elvis purists”. Who this is for is for the younger generations who don’t know who Elvis is.

“That will make him iconic in their eyes.”

What did Priscilla and Lisa Marie say elvis?

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 21: (LR) Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Riley Keough and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood attend the handprint ceremony honoring three generations of Presley at TCL on June 21, 2022 in Hollywood Chinese Theater Part, California.  (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

(LR) Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Riley Keough and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Ex-wife Priscilla Presley and her daughter Lisa Marie were both effusive in their praise of the film, particularly the starring role of Austin Butler.

After seeing it in April, Priscilla posted her reaction to Facebook. “This story is about the relationship between Elvis and Colonel Parker.

“It’s a brilliantly and creatively told true story that only Baz could have delivered with his unique artistry. Austin Butler, who played Elvis, is outstanding.

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

“Halfway through the movie, Jerry[Elvis’soldfriendtalentmanagerJerrySchilling)andIsawandsaidWOW!!BravotohimknewhehadbigshoestofillhewasextremelynervoustoplaythatroleIcanonlyimagine”[Elvis’soldfriendtalentmanagerJerrySchilling)andIlookedateachotherandsaidWOW!!Bravotohimheknewlypartoushehadbigshoestofill”andIlookedateachotherandsaidWOW!!Bravotohimheknewlypartoushehadbigshoestofill”[Elvis’alterFreundTalentmanagerJerrySchilling)undichunsanundsagtenWOW!!Bravozuihm…erwusstedassergroßeFußstapfenzufüllenhatteErwarextremnervösdieseRollezuspielenIchkannesmirnurvorstellen”[Elvis’soldfriendtalentmanagerJerrySchilling)andIlookedateachotherandsaidWOW!!Bravotohim…heknewhehadbigshoestofillHewasextremelynervousplayingthispartIcanonlyimagine”

On Instagram, Lisa Marie described the film as “absolutely exquisite. Austin Butler beautifully channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul. In my humble opinion his performance is unparalleled and FINALLY accurate and respectful.”

Did Elvis want to be an actor?

Elvis Presley and Debra Paget in cinematography for the film

Elvis Presley and Debra Paget in Cinematography for the Movie love me tenderly1956. (20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Yes. His first screen test was in 1956, the year that began with his first number one single.heartbreak hotel’. He made his screen debut in mid-November love me tenderly and made a total of 31 films.

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He talks about his acting dreams in the film and a few lines from his interview with Life magazine – “Look at Frank Sinatra. By the time he added acting to singing, he was slipping downhill” – used in the film.

Elvis Presley in changing habits (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Elvis Presley a change of habit. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

But alas, as we see, his films fell out of favour, audiences declined and his last, habit changewas released in November 1969, just thirteen years after its debut.

There is also some discussion about Presley’s starring role in the 1976 remake A star Is Born. He was in contention for the role for a while, but health issues put a damper on his return to acting.

Did Elvis join the army?

(Original caption) Friedberg, Germany: With a serious expression, singer Elvis Presley points to his three stripes after being promoted to acting sergeant here on January 20th.  He was promoted from the rank of fourth-class specialist, and the promotion does not carry a salary increase.

Elvis Presley after being promoted to acting sergeant. (Getty)

Yes, and his star status meant huge publicity in December 1957 when he was drafted. The film touches only briefly on his early military service, focuses on the death of his mother in the summer of the following year, but then reviews his time in West Germany.

While in uniform he continued to receive bags of adoring mail and the film shows him being pursued by legions of fans. During this deployment he met Priscilla Beaulieu, the daughter of a US Air Force captain.

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Baz Luhrmann with Austin Butler on the set of elvis. (Warner Bros.)

By the time he was honorably discharged from the army in 1960, Elvis had achieved the rank of sergeant and after a long courtship he and Priscilla were married in 1967.

Was Colonel Tom Parker really a Colonel?

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA AUS) USA - Photo of Colonel Tom PARKER and Elvis PRESLEY, with manager Colonel Tom Parker - posed circa 1956/1967 (Photo by GAB Archives/Redferns)

Colonel Tom Parker with Elvis Presley around 1956/1967. (GAB archive/Redferns)

no And as the film shows, Parker’s past has been rife with mystery and deceit. Born Andrea Cornelis van Kuijk in 1909 in the Netherlands, he was an illegal immigrant to the United States.

Smithsonian Magazine mentions that he may have escaped there after committing a murder. He joined the army but never became a colonel and after retiring worked at the county fair before turning to talent management. Despite what is shown in the film, its origins were not revealed until the 1980s.

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

As the film shows, he was behind Presley’s rise to fame, but as we also see, he made financial deals that were worth more to him than his client.

During a dramatic confrontation, Elvis refers to taking 50% of his earnings, and this is generally believed to be true.

So how accurate is elvis?

(Original caption) 2/8/1979-Hollywood, CA Scene from the TV Movie

Pat Hingle as Colonel Tom Parker listens to Elvis (Kurt Russell) record early in his career. (Getty)

Although it’s his first biopic, Luhrmann isn’t the first to explore the king’s life on screen. Until now, John Carpenters 1979 elviswith Kurt Russell in the title role, was most notable.

Presley’s story is well known, but this is the biggest, boldest version yet, and one with great attention to detail that should please most fans.

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.  (Warner Bros.)

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

Sure, Luhrmann takes some creative liberties, but overall the film plays it straight when it comes to the main facts of the story. It should satisfy even the most suspicious of minds.

elvis hits theaters on June 24th. Watch a clip below.

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